i thought i’d try to document our paddle on the river trent and the nottingham beeston canal, just in case anyone was thinking of doing a similar trip.
the route we took is here:
after calling in at desperate measures to borrow an open boat for steve and his son mark, we headed to the city ground and parked right outside the nottingham kayak club’s clubhouse on trent side north (that’s the name of the street, even though it is south of the trent). we were there on a weekday in december and didn’t struggle to park. i guess it’ll be ok at any time of year apart from saturday afternoons in the football season.
trent and beeston paddle
from here it is a simple carry down steps to the trent. this is the ramp used by both the kayak club and the university rowing club so a perfect place to get onto the water.
the only downside is that it is only 100m before you’re out of the boat again. entrance to the nottingham beeston canal is almost straight opposite you through the lock. portage is to the right of the lock and accessed by a floating pontoon and ramp. getting across the river will give you a feel for how fast it is flowing.
once through this newly restored lock, you head straight for the centre of the city alongside london road, heading due north. this is a very old part of the city, but plenty to look at from the boat, including notts county fc and the railway station.
at the premier inn there is a 90 degree left turn under the main road and into the heart of the newly developed (and developing) part of town.
trent and beeston paddle
past the broadmarsh on the right before you arrive at castle wharf. here there are a couple of bars and places to eat although it may be a bit early in your trip for that. to the left is the magistrate’s court beyond what i assume is an ancient bridge.
trent and beeston paddle
there are some fantastic old buildings to see from the canal and the feeling of smugness as you glimpse the queues of traffic and people rushing about is great
trent and beeston paddle trent and beeston paddle
through the next lock, portaged to the left and you’re off out into the suburbs. the buildings thin out a little and greenery increases. past a huge marina on the left, under a handful of bridges (including the massive A52 by-pass) and you’re into countryside.
trent and beeston paddle
being a canal, the going remains as steady as you like and on our trip we saw one moving canal boat all day.
after a couple of hours (at our pace) or 10km, you’ll arrive at beeston lock. i’d suggest you get out on the left bank, just before the entrance to the private mooring. it is this way you’ll head when you set off along the river. the cafe is across the footbridge and along to the right of the lock.
for the previous half mile or so you will have heard the roar of the mighty weir. the weir is hydro-electric and when you stand close to it, you struggle to understand why the whole of nottingham can’t be powered by this huge movement of water. it is an impressive sight with radcliffe power station in the distance.
trent and beeston paddle
trent and beeston paddle
almost as impressive are the lunch menus at the boathouse cafe at the beeston marina. all the lunchtime meals are £2. yup, TWO ENGLISH POUNDS! so the three of us had sausages, eggs and chips, coffee and coke and spent £8 in total.
trent and beeston paddle
after the distractions of the cafe its down to business and the return leg along the river trent, back into town. there is a real easy get in at the bottom of the weir. as soon as the nose of your boat is out into the main flow though, the speeds increase dramatically. the river boils and eddies for a couple of hundred meters after the weir (at least it did when we were there in fairly high water conditions) before opening out and slowing down again. at this point, you get a good idea of what a major river the trent is.
trent and beeston paddle
while you know you’re close to a major city, the heron count goes up and the feelings of an epic journey fill you as the river carries you rapidly along.
trent and beeston paddle
the river bends lazily as you get closer to the city with familiar landmarks along the way. these include the victoria embankment and war memorial on the left, cricket ground on the right and eventually, the famous trent bridge.
trent and beeston paddle
you’ll need your wits about you along this section as there are plenty of very fast moving skulls, shells and eights, assuming i’ve got the names right. the last landmark is the city ground and you’re back where you started.
a little over 11 miles, a bit of excitement after the weir and a real variety of things to see from city centre canal to a genuinely big river on the way back.

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